Monthly Archives: December 2012

Privilege Creek Ranch: A Southern Thanksgiving

Babette and I arrived in Austin just in the nick of time for Thanksgiving. During the last portion of our trip I continued to quote the great John Hughes film Plans, Trains, & Automobiles as it seemed fitting. We had been invited to spend Thanksgiving with my Texan and his family out on the family ranch near Bandera, Texas. Privilege Creek Ranch has been a beloved family destination for multiple generations. I had heard so many wonderful things about the ranch and its splendor.  The Texan told me stories about how he had spent summers out there with his granddad fishing on the lake and hunting on the acreage.  I had built up the ranch in my mind to be this absolutely astounding and beautiful piece of Texas land where the family would gather and share  many wonderful moments.

We made our way down the unpaved winding road, my Texan driving, Babette in the back, while I rode shotgun. I was still in awe that it was some 70 degrees on Thanksgiving. The sun was shining and we wound around until we arrived at the ranch gate. I was so excited! We continued on and finally arrived at the house. Such a warm and loving welcome. We were with our southern family at last.

Final preparations were made, and we gathered to give a prayer of thanks. All were in joyous spirits, and we laughed as each person squeezed around the large dinning room table that wasn’t quite large enough for elbow room. Everyone accepted this humorous eating challenge with excitement. It was a wonderful feast with plenty of left overs. After dinner, many retreated to watch football, some to walk the grounds, with others preparing for pie, coffee, and other goodies. This dessert portion of the afternoon was actually doubling as a wedding shower for a pair that had eloped within the previous month. Laughter and love filled the room as each person shared advice and warm words for the newlywed couple.

After copious amounts of cake, pie, and sweet treats were consumed, it would be assumed that all would return to football or a nearby couch. Not the case. This would be the first round of Thanksgiving hunting. Prior to my departure, my grandpa had gifted me his Winchester 30-30 from the 1920’s. The Texan rounded up the rest of the gear including shells, targets, ear plugs, a 10-20 rifle, and his 30-06. We took the ranch SUV out to the shooting range and set up. After a thorough course on gun safety and operations by my love, Babette and I were ready. AMAZING! What power!? Not too bad of a kick, and I at least hit the target (that was 100 yards away) at least once with the 30-30 and once with the 10-20. Loved it. Of course the Texan was an amazing shot, but he was very supportive of Babette and I spreading our gun wings…..

While we were on the shooting range, we could hear shots in the distance, which we assumed to be the rest of the family who had headed out to the dear blinds. We didn’t return to the house until dusk and when we did, we discovered that 15 year old Zachery had got a buck. While he and some of the other men were bringing it in, we had some bits of delicious leftovers, and plopped down to watch the Cowboys play the Redskins. Apparently, there was a secret cellar in the “Trophy Room” where we were lounging. The Texan took us down there and we discovered a treasure trove of collected items from the ranch including fossils, arrowheads, old bottles, horns, and other dusty items. After we emerged, the Texan disappeared. I didn’t find him until I ventured outside, where he and Zachery, along with two of the other cousins, were beginning to skin the deer. Oh Boy. This is not for the faint of heart. Nor are my photos (you have been warned). I watched (and documented) the entire process and can now say that I know what it sounds like when a severed deer hoof is thrown into a bloody bucket of its insides. Yep.

That night Babette, the Texan, and I stayed awake laughing until the wee hours of the morning. I’m not sure about what exactly, but I remember commenting on the dried deer blood on the Texan’s shirt as he went to hug me… I laughed and accepted my southern fate, and gave him a big hug right back, deer blood and all.

There had been discussion about getting up at 5:30am to go hunting during round 2–this time actually going out to a deer blind and not just the shooting range–however we were simply too tired when the alarm went off. Around 9am, I strolled out to the kitchen for a hot cup of coffee and yummy breakfast of bacon, eggs, and fresh fruit. The hunters returned around 9:45am with 3 more deer who had not been so fortunate. All of the deer made there way into the walk-in cooler, right in between the left over turkey and pies.

For our final ranch activity, the Texan took Babette and I, with several other family members, on a drive around the land. It was a beautiful, warm, and sunny day. It was a perfect way to end our first southern Thanksgiving at Privilege Creek Ranch.

The Eyes Of Texas Are Upon You

As the sun was beginning to set, we neared the border between New Mexico and Texas. Of course I had my heart set on a picture of the ‘Welcome to Texas’ sign that I assumed was going to be larger than life. Everything is bigger in Texas right?! Well apparently not if you cross over in Farwell, Texas on I-84.

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You can imagine my disappointment.

Just as I was about to have a major rant, Texas pulled through in all of its glory.

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Hallelujah!

4284061We had finally made it! Captain didn’t quite understand why I had woken him up for this photo op but he obliged. Holden just sat in the cat tent/cage meowing uncomfortably as he had done for the majority of the trip. A sense of great accomplishment came over Babette and I which solidified our plan to drive straight through to Austin without stopping in Lubbock. We had just about 8 hours of driving left. Babette was finishing one of her shifts, I would drive another three hours, and she would bring us into Austin.

I sent the Texan a screen shot of us, finally in the same state.  I was overjoyed to have made it to my new home state safely and with no major barriers.

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The west Texas sunset was gorgeous that night.

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Babette and I made it to my new Austin home at about 1:30am Wednesday (or very very late Tuesday night) just in time to prepare for Thanksgiving, Texas style! Our road trip was epic. There are so many details that I can’t possibly cover, as I still feel as though I’m recovering from this move half-way across the country. Suffice it to say, she and I are closer than ever and we have perfected the southern accent 😉

I am finally at home with my Texan.

Sigh.

The Hoover Dam and Albuquerque, New Mexico

After leaving Vegas, we made a quick stop at the Hoover Dam. Too bad this was when I was able to get the ‘Welcome to Nevada’ sign…

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

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Made our way through Arizona with a brief stop to visit some of Babette’s family, and finally made it to Albuquerque, New Mexico late that night.  It was so late and we were staaaarving. Rough because we had quite the hankering for this “New Mexican” food we kept reading about, but all of the restaurants were closed! We finally found Frontier Restaurant and had some enchiladas that were meh. By the time we made it to our lovely Econolodge in Old Town Albuquerque (total amount paid for hotel rooms during entire trip was $135) the town appeared deserted. I’m pretty sure it was only about midnight but there wasn’t a soul in sight. Very odd…of course I checked the Life360 when we arrived in our room and decided to turn off the “unsafe” alerts about chi-mos because it was just getting to me. At that point, I called the Texan to check in and wished we were there already. The next debate was whether we would wake up early and plow through the next 12.5 hours to Austin or if we would stop in Lubbock. I had previously checked the Life360 about Lubbock and it was no bueno. Babette and I compromised and decided that if we slept in until 9am, and were well rested, we could push through and get to Austin by midnight or 1am the next day.

The following morning Albuquerque was more alive and we walked around Old Town and looked at some turquoise, silver, and native art. Having a leisurely morning, we were prepared to make the final trek.

Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico

Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico

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It was pretty funny because Babette and I finally set our pride aside on this last day and decided to drive in 3 hour shifts, trading even if we felt we were awake enough to continue. The previous days, either she or I would drive the 10 or so hours…no real reason other than stubbornness. We decided that if we had been rotating like this for the duration of the trip, we could have made it in one sitting…probably.

Now we just had to make it into Texas.